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Changes Target Unemployment Insurance In Wis.

By SCOTT BAUER

MADISON, Wis. (AP) â¿¿ Qualifying for unemployment insurance in Wisconsin could become more difficult under a series of changes to rules and regulations across state government being pushed by Gov. Scott Walker.

Walker released a report Tuesday just before his State of the State speech that identifies more than 300 rules for possible changes, including those setting requirements for recipients of unemployment benefits.

While Walker's report offers generally broad recommendations, more specific changes will likely come from the Republican-controlled state Assembly. It is conducting its own review in advance of proposing a series of bills to change the law.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who had not read the Walker report as of Wednesday afternoon, said GOP lawmakers will hold news conferences across the state asking for the public's help in identifying rules and regulations it believes need to be changed.

Those ideas will be taken together with Walker's report and ideas generated by Assembly committees, Vos said. Changes may be done internally by a state agency, through a rule suspension, or through legislation, he said.

While some of the changes are likely to generate little discussion or consternation, others like those targeting unemployment insurance have already gotten the attention of Democrats.

"I strongly support helping business navigate the regulatory process and eliminating unnecessary regulations," said Democratic Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca in a statement. "But there is a huge difference between that and eliminating protections that are important for workers, children, consumers, health or the environment."

Barca said the public deserves to see more details on any proposed changes.

Walker's report, written by the Small Business Regulatory Review Board, said that while the benefits provided to the unemployed are vital to helping people get back on their feet, "common sense changes" could improve the program.

One specific recommended change was to require the unemployed to file four applications for jobs a week instead of the current two. The report also calls for looking at ways to reduce fraud and to limit exceptions that allow workers to quit a job and still receive benefits.

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